The perils of mock elections
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:15:00 12/02/2009
BOTH Belinda Oliveras-Cunanan and Bobit S. Avila are entranced by what Cunanan considers Gilbert Teodoro’s “surging” in a Facebook (FB) “survey” of presidential candidates, with Avila asserting that the FB results are superior to those of surveys done by Pulse Asia or Social Weather Stations. The only problem is that their excitement stems from a lack of comprehension of what is going on.
There is no FB survey. Avila in particular seems to believe it is FB itself that has taken it upon itself to start tracking opinion with regard to the candidates for the Philippine presidency. As an active FB user, I think this is a disservice to FB, to those who have created applications related to the 2010 campaign, to the candidates, and to the broader public.
What Cunanan and Avila referred to in their columns, and what was reported in various news stories, is an application, and if you go to the Election2010 page on FB, it very clearly says, “this application was not developed by Facebook.”
The Election2010 application isn’t a survey application. It is an ongoing effort, over multiple rounds, to periodically undertake mock elections. The Round 1 results were published on Sunday, Nov. 15: Aquino 48.48 percent; Escudero 24.24 percent; Teodoro 12.12 percent; Villar 12.12 percent; Estrada 3.03 percent. Round 2 started on Monday, Nov. 16 and lasted until Sunday, Nov. 22, 11:59 p.m. and its results were: Aquino 47.59 percent; Teodoro 25.13 percent; Villar 13.37 percent; Escudero 11.76 percent; Estrada 2.14 percent. Round 3 started on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 and lasted until Sunday, Nov. 29, at 11:59 p.m. with the following results: Teodoro 58.69 percent; Aquino 31.90 percent; Villar 6.79 percent; Estrada 1.07 percent; Escudero 0.83 percent; Ebdane 0.71 percent. As of this writing, Round 4 was ongoing and Teodoro has 63.40 percent, Aquino 28.41 percent, Villar 6.82 percent, Estrada 1.36 percent.
The experiment has, at its core, only those who are aware of, and use, the application. You have to know about it, and install it, and authorize it, in order to use it. Also, the experiment does not report the actual votes, only percentages. Therefore those who want to make sense of the results have no means of finding out how many people participated in each round of voting.
The Election2010 page reports the following statistics: It has 1,605 active users, which means this is more or less the active voting population that participates in each round of the mock polls. It has 43 friends, and 395 fans. The active users represents the largest potential voting population for the application; but it could also mean 1,600 people are the total voters for what is now four rounds, not the total voters for each round. We have to extrapolate what the voting population might be, without being able to answer how many actually vote in any given round, and what’s more, since the application is open for sharing, whether the boosters of any particular candidate can inflate the results for their candidate by swarming the application during each round.
For a comparison of how online surveys can and ought to be reported, the Definitely Filipino Facebook page has 400,000 fans, making for a much larger potential voting population. On Dec. 2, a mock poll was put up using the PollDaddy.com application. The results as of 1:26 p.m. on Dec. 2 were: Aquino 54 percent (268 votes); Teodoro 19 percent (94 votes); Villar 14 percent (68 votes), Gordon 5 percent (23 votes), Villanueva 3 percent (17 votes), Estrada 3 percent (13 votes), Fernando 2 percent (12 votes), Madrigal one percent (1 vote)—a total of 496 votes out of a potential vote pool of 400,000. If you’re not on Facebook you can access the mock poll and its results at: http://fbfilipino.wordpress.com/ 2009/12/02/mock-poll/. This points to something Election2010 can do in terms of the ongoing development of the application: it can break down actual votes, so that people who participate and view the results, or who report on the results, can determine the actual number of voters per round, and the breakdown per candidate.
One thing is sure: Neither the 2010 FB application nor the ongoing voting in the Truly Filipino page has ever claimed to be surveys. Both are mock polls. They are not based on random sampling of the population, they are based on whoever runs across, or hears about, the mock polls and decides to join them. And both, by the very nature of Facebook, rely on limited populations—not even the total potential voting population, spread across multiple pages, of the various candidates.
A comparison to the active fan base of the candidates is useful at this point. In Facebook, most of the candidates have fan pages where their supporters congregate and share information and opinions among themselves. For the major candidates who have official fan pages (pages they have endorsed or accredited), here are the numbers: Aquino—109,349; Villar—38,261; Escudero (now dropped out of the race)—13,098; Teodoro—7,743; Estrada—3,403. In addition, Aquino has accredited other FB pages, so you have the Noynoy for President Movement with 56,327 fans, Noynoy for President with 24,010, Yellow Ribbon for President Cory Aquino with 66,939 and Cebu Volunteers for Noynoy with 991 and Tsinoy for Noy with 394—a total of 148,661 in the accredited FB pages.
Another way to measure commitment to the candidates is by means of Twitter, where people can follow people and candidates they like. A total of 20,461 follow Noynoy Aquino’s and 22,116 follow Mar Roxas’ Twitter accounts, respectively; 15,541 follow Escudero’s; 4,190 follow Teodoro’s; and 585 follow Villar’s. On the other hand, Villar is the master of Friendster, with 14,727 friends followed by Escudero with 1,155, Aquino with 218, and Teodoro with 140. Villar also dominates Multiply with 2,541 connections, while Aquino has 89 and Teodoro, 29.
Experiments like the Election2010 application are being seriously misrepresented. Hopefully due to ignorance and nothing else.
January 7, 2010
‘Her real man for the May elections is Manny Villar. God save this country.’
THE last reputable surveys done after the filing of certificates of candidacy show three presidential candidates at the top: Noynoy Aquino in the mid to high forties, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada in a virtual tie at 20 or 19 percentage points. And Gilbert Teodoro, the man anointed by the once humongous Partido Lakas-Kampi founded by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, incumbent and long-staying president of the benighted republic, at low single-digit numbers. The rest are also-rans, at 1 percentage point or even lower.
Why the regime’s anointed is languishing at bottom lows, despite the vaunted party machinery, the well-placed ads projecting competence and intelligence (“galing at talino”), and despite inarguably better speaking and debating skills than the competition, is attributable to the public belief that he is “Gloria’s man”, the chosen “one”, the person she deems most fit to succeed and most acceptable to her. Unfortunately for him, the person who chose him above all else happens to be most distrusted by the population. That distrust for his patroness drags Gibo down, never mind his personal qualities. It carries over to his persona, reinforced in no small measure by his having expressed not only the usual paeans of gratitude, but a public admiration for her “many achievements,” something clearly the people do not share. To do a volte face at this time will no longer be credible. Gilbert Teodoro’s chances are virtually nil. Even Ronaldo Puno’s vaunted skills cannot resurrect flagging hopes. Nor Virgilio Garcillano’s magic do the trick. Perhaps if Norberto Gonzales succeeds in discombobulating everything and upsetting the applecart of elections… perhaps, but that’s a big if, and assuming the guy and his patroness can pull it through, will the people ever be so supine as to take such adventurism lying down?
It does not help Teodoro one whit that his patroness has filed her certificate of candidacy for the second congressional district of Pampanga. The undisguised attempt to pull strings even beyond her wished-for political demise, ruling beyond the grave as it were, makes Teodoro look all the more the puppet that he is unfairly made to be.
Yesterday, the papers carried Speaker Prospero Nograles’ inclusion of the call for a constitutional convention, as if to further stress the GMA plan so obvious. But because Gibo’s presidential ambition is singularly anchored on the support of her party and its minions across the archipelago, he cannot publicly balk. In fact, he is on record as supporting a change in the Constitution. While amending the fundamental law is right, espousing it at the moment when people so clearly distrust the sincerity of the incumbent is off-key. Gilbert cannot even publicly state that if elected president, he will wield his influence to ensure that GMA does not become his Speaker of the House. So whether for better, or predictably for worse, Gloria’s distrust rating will be the albatross around Gilbert’s neck. His goose is cooked, never mind how often Prospero Pichay and Mitos Magsaysay whistle in the dark.
Which brings me to this story: A few days before Manny Pacquiao knocked down Ricky Hatton in early May, the spouses Cynthia and Manuel Villar flew to Spain. Likewise, Gloria flew to Egypt and Syria for official visits. Why she had to go to these North African countries the public was never clear at, but in any case, they took it as just one of her usual flights of fancy. The Villars were waiting in Spain for cues from a well-placed Gloria crony, who was supposed to arrange a rendezvous with her in some warm Mediterranean coast.
Fortunately, this writer found out about the Villar travel plans. And so, just as Doña Gloria landed in Egypt, the cat was out of the bag. Expectedly, Malacañang made denials. Senadora Jamby Madrigal got into the act, and denounced Villar for desperately seeking La Gloria’s support in his attempt to derail the Senate ethics probe. This, after all, was Villar’s immediate problem. The attempted rendezvous panned out.
But then, and here our travel facts jibe with the veracity of highly reliable sources, a top-level meeting was supposed to have yet pushed through here in the country. And GMA, wanting for a strong contender her PaLaKa simply could not pull off from its hat, warmed up to the idea of Villar as her “secret” candidate. Classified as opposition, though not an “obstructionist” or a GMA basher as the rest of the presidential pack, Villar qualified as an acceptable alternative bet. Moreover, he was already ahead of her vice-president, Noli de Castro in the May surveys. Better yet, he had wherewithal to the max, the result of “smart” transactions capped by an even “smarter” IPO of his real estate empire the year before. Noli she had to spend fr, but with Manny, she gets a free ride.
The result of the “transaction” as my source confided is that GMA would endorse a “weak” but credible enough candidate, and not “encourage” Noli to run for president, a prospect that the not-so-ambitious vice-president was not inordinately “lusting” for. And on his part, Villar would keep dangling a “repeat vice-president” string, loaded with generous freebies, to his bosom friend Noli, a “red herring” of an offer. If GMA would have a weak official candidate, Manny with his huge war chest would prevail in the 2010 derby, the ideal surrogate. Neat.
After all, Lacson had withdrawn; Escudero had no money and would have to rely on Danding and Ramon Ang’s promises; Mar Roxas and Loren Legarda were languishing in single-digit survey static; and Erap would be disqualified. And true enough, when the SWS polled in mid-June 2009, it was a statistical tie among Villar, Chiz and Erap, with Noli behind, Loren and Mar even more so. Teodoro had launched his clumsy disaster preparedness infomercial a month before, its debut timed with Hatton’s early knock-out from the Pacman’s fists, and while everybody shook his head at his “late” entry and doubted his chances, most agreed he had intellectual credentials, credibility as candidate but not enough to win. Gravitas, but not votes.
And then the Lord writ his providence with sad tidings. On August 1, Corazon Aquino died after a long bout with cancer, and the political stage shook underneath. Forty days later, a game changer came in with Noynoy on the presidential trail. All previous assumptions changed, including the fortunes of Gloria’s pre-arranged surrogate. Likely unstoppable winner became a distant second, despite tons and tons of creative advertising and a bevy of turncoats. From September till December of the year past, Noynoy kept his commanding lead. Escudero withdrew, Erap persists, but Gibo continues to languish in the political netherworld.
And that is where the woman of the decade finds immediate political dilemma at this point in time. Her anointed has not risen, and her alternate, though far from victory, presents the single most “possible” threat to the front-runner she could not accept because he is the least likely to “transact.”
If creative advertising and a well-run because well-funded campaign pulls Villar up in the next three months, and a demolition job somehow pushes down Noynoy’s lead considerably (or so the evil are planning), then it’s game for Manny and goodbye for Gibo. Garci and the “operators” should be able to do the trick, with Smartmatic laying the predicate.
But would Manny the new president be faithful to his “no me impune” assurances? Why not?
They would need each other most after a certifiably controversial “election”. She with her residual powers as “commander-in-chief” between May 10 and June 30 just might be able to quell the tumult of the rabble. That’s why Del Bangit and the Class of ’78 are in the “proper” places. And he would at least be able to recover his billions, while stopping prosecution for “smart” deals made as congressman, Speaker, senator and Senate President, charges with enough documentary evidence to prosecute, but parried successfully by “smart” propaganda so far. Never mind if he has to deal with “her” congressmen with her (misma!) as Speaker. If he is off to wobbly start, he would not get his bearings composed, and she, as “Speaker” and alternate “power center”, just might be able to pull off her parliamentary dreams of becoming the prime minister.
There you are – “her” real man for the May elections. God save this country.
Iba pang budget insertion ibinuko na rin ni Lacson
(Pilipino Star Ngayon) Updated September 16, 2008 12:00 AM
Hindi lamang ang P200 milyong budget insertion ang tinumbok kahapon ni Lacson, kundi maging ang iba pang “budget insertion” na ginawa sa Senado.
Natuklasan umano ni Lacson sa page 564 ng 2008 General Appropriations Act sa ilalim ng budget ng Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) ang paglalaan ng budget para sa widening ng Governor’s Drive (Carmona-Dasmariñas-Trece Martires City Road including bridges) na nilaanan ng P50 milyon, pero sa page 646 ng nasabi ring budget book naglaan na naman ng panibagong P50 milyon sa kapareho pa ring proyekto.
Sinabi pa ni Lacson na sa pitong taon niya bilang mambabatas, ito ang unang pagkakataon na nakakita siya ng dalawang bersiyon ng iisang House bill, ang House Bill 2454 na isang kaso rin ng double entry.
Sa nasabing HB 2454 na tinawag ni Lacson na Red Version, nakapaloob ang locally funded projects ng DPWH na nagkakahalaga ng P52,648,923.000. Pero sa black version umano ng nasabi ring HB 2454 ang pondo ay naging P65,461,538,000, kung saan lumobo ito ng P13 bilyon.
Tahasang ikinumpara naman ni Sen. Joker Arroyo si Lacson sa isang security guard na natutulog sa kanyang trabaho kaya nalusutan nang nadiskubre nitong P200 milyong budget insertion.
Sinabi ni Arroyo na katulad ng isang security guard na natutulog sa trabaho, nagrereklamo si Lacson matapos magising at matuklasan na nanakawan na siya.
Kung isang pulis umano si Lacson, posibleng natanggal na ito sa trabaho dahil hindi agad nakita ang sinasabing lumusot na ‘budget’.
Ginawa ni Arroyo ang reaksiyon matapos mag privilege speech si Lacson tungkol sa mga budget insertion na natuklasan niya sa 2008 national budget.
Pinaninindigan ng ilang senador na walang masama sa ‘budget insertion’ dahil dito napopondohan ang ilan sa kanilang mga proyekto.
Pagkatapos ng tatlong beses na suspensiyon, nauwi rin sa adjournment ang sesyon ng Senado na magkakabalik ngayong araw sa ganap na alas-3 ng hapon. Inaasahan na muling mauungkat ang hindi natapos na isyu sa budget insertion kung saan nakakaladkad ang pangalan ni Senate President Manuel Villar. (Malou Escudero)
Villar admits involvement in ‘double insertion’ in budget
09/16/2008 | 08:58 PM
MANILA, Philippines — In a turnaround from his earlier denials, Senate President Manuel Villar Jr on Tuesday admitted that he personally requested the additional budget for the C-5 road extension project in Parañaque City.
But he stressed that there was nothing anomalous with this action.
In an interview with Ruth Cabal of GMANews’ ‘24Oras,’ Villar admitted that he asked for the additional funding, but said he did not demand for any specific amount.
He added that request as such for certain projects is normal.
“Sa Senado lalung-lalo na kung Senate president napakaraming pakiusap na tinatanggap at ‘yung mga gusto naming mga proyekto ay gusto naming mapondohan (Here in the Senate, especially if you are the Senate president, we receive plenty of requests for funding for pet projects,” Villar said.
“Basta additional funding without specific amount pero kung ‘yun lang ang maibibigay, ok lamang ‘yan (As long as it’s additional funding without specific amount, it’s okay with us,” Villar added.
He also explained that the two C-5 extension proposals, indeed, are two different projects, opposite to the earlier claims of opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
“Dalawang proyekto ‘yan. “Yung isang proyekto ay flyover na magkokonekta sa Coastal Road. ‘Yung second project ay flyover naman na magco-cross ng Sucat. So, eto ‘yung sinasabing isang proyekto lang, dalawang proyekto ‘yan (There are two projects here. One is the flyover connecting Coastal Road and the second project is a flyover that will cross Sucat. So this what they say is only one project but it’s actually two,” Villar explained.
But Lacson reiterated his stand that two separated P200 million insertions was for the one and the same stretch of road, adding that the investigation on his exposé should pursue.
“Pinakita ko na nga na ‘yung ibang proyekto naka-indicate point by point kung para saan ‘yung appropriations. Pero itong sa kanya, ‘yung sinasabi niyang hindi double entry, iisa naman and description. So palusot nalang ‘yan (I’ve already shown that in the other projects, the appropriations are indicated point-by-point. But this entry, which he (Villar) says is not ‘double entry,’ has only one description. So, he’s just trying to wriggle his way out),” Lacson said.
Senator Francis Escudero echoed Lacson.
“Que political of personal man ang rason nananatiling may issue at may tanong na dapat sagutin (Whether it’s political or personal reason, there is an issue raised that has to be answered,” Escudero said.
The report said the three resolutions seeking for the investigation of the scandal were already referred to the Senate Committees on Finance and Public Accountability (Blue Ribbon Committee).
Villar said he will not inhibit himself from the case, saying he will face any charges that will be filed against him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joker Arroyo, a close friend of Villar, vowed to block any move that will lead to the investigation of the scandal.
“… Tell me Sen. Lacson where is the corruption committed?” Arroyo asked.
To which Lacson retorted: “Patulog-tulog siya kapag may privilege speech, patulog-tulog siya kapag meron business dito sa Senate, sa floor, tapos salita lang siya ng salita na hindi niya naiintindihan (He is not paying attention when we have business here in the Senate and he talks without understanding).”
Amid the brouhaha, oppositions Sens. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel Roxas stressed that the opposition remains solidly united behind Lacson’s move to expose any anomaly in the national budget.
Administration Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, on the other hand, described the bickering as just an appetizer for the nearing 2010 national elections.
“Yung nakikita po natin na putik na tinatapon on both sides ano na po ‘yan appetizer sa 2010 elections (What you have witnessed, in which both sides are throwing mud at each other, is just a prelude to the 2010 elections),” Zubiri said. – Aie Balagtas See, GMANews.TV
Question of Privilege of Rep. Joker Arroyo
(on charges against Rep. Villar)
I rise on a question of collective privilege on a constitutional issue that affects the integrity of the House and it is very ripe to continue existing.
In the course of the fight for the speakership, Rep. Agapito Aquino, chairman of the reform bloc, raised questions regarding the fitness of Rep. Villar to seek the speakership. Rep. Villar chose to answer the charges but he was overwhelmingly elected Speaker by this House.
Successful election, however, does not answer the questions nor lay to rest charges of wrongdoing, not in government of laws.
We had a colleague, we still have a colleague in the person of Congressman Jalosjos. He was elected by his district but that did not erase his conviction. So, drawing a parallel election does not wipe out the offense.
The questions raised, nay, the charges against Speaker Villar are constitutional in character. And our duty as members of the legislature is peremptory and clear. We took oath to support and defend the Constitution and uphold the laws. The Constitution has been violated, laws have been broken. If we are to continue in the capacity of public officials, if this Chamber is to continue in its very character as legislature, an indispensable pillar in the system of checks and balances, then we must come to the Constitution’ s defense and the vindication of the laws.
I hesitated long and pondered hard whether to raise these questions for fear of being accused of sour-graping and being a poor sport. But this has nothing to do with sports. Our duty is clear, there are charges of illegalities, the charges must be heard and answered. I am reminded of the case of Speaker Newt Gingrich of the United States House of Representatives. He was investigated by the United States House of Representatives for I think collecting some fees of books he wrote while Speaker (I am not too sure of the facts). But one thing I am sure of is this, the House after hearing censured its own Speaker and penalized him with a penalty was meted out. In other words, there are precedents and we must not hesitate to do our duty.
Article XI of the Constitution is titled “Accountability of Public Officers” it proscribes in Section 16 that:
“No loan, guaranty, or other form of financial accommodation for any business purpose may be granted, directly or indirectly, by any government or controlled bank or financial institution to the President, the Vice President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Commission, the Ombudsman, or to any firm or entity in which they have controlling interest, during their term.”
Charge I. Low cost housing is totally dependent on government agencies such as PAG-IBIG, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), SSS, GSIS, and other government financial institutions.
Speaker Villar and the companies of which he is President or Chairman, or where he has a controlling interest, are the biggest low-cost housing developers in the country. To be more specific, it is the Camella and Palmera Homes and its principal subsidiaries, the Household Development Corporation and Palmera and Communities Philippines.
In violation of the constitutional injunction, these companies were given financial accommodations by government banks or financial institutions, among them, PAG-IBIG and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation among others, during Speaker Villar’s term as Representative from 1992 to 1998 to finance their business purposes.
Charge II. Representative Villar, from 1992 to 1998 did not divest himself of his interests in, nor did he sever his connections with, the companies aforestated. They obtained financial accommodations from the above government financial institutions while he was a Member of Congress. Since he did not, therefore, such companies were forbidden from entering into such financial arrangements.
Because of our Constitution, Republic Act No. 6713 known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials” states in Section 9:
“Divestment. – A public official or employee should avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty (60) days from such assumption.. .”
Charge III. Nor has Speaker Villar, up to now, I am saying up to now, divested himself of his interests in, nor has he severed his connections with, the companies aforestated. Speaker Villar is in no hurry to divest because he has declared that he is under no obligation to do so. A continuing violation.
Charge IV. Speaker Villar controls the Capitol Bank. Mrs. Villar is the chief executive officer. The Capitol Bank received loans, financial accommodations and guarantees from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 1992 to 1998 while he was a Representative. That is constitutionally forbidden.
To sum it up, the constitutional prohibition is very simple. If a Representative has a controlling interest in a firm or entity, that firm or entity cannot be extended a loan, a guaranty, or a financial accommodation for any business purpose from any government financial institution.
If that firm or entity would like to obtain a loan, a guaranty or a financial accommodation from a government financial institution, that firm or entity must first relieve itself of the controlling interest of the Representative.
It is my humble submission that Speaker Villar did not do either.
Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in Section 6 therefore as follows:
“Sec. 6. Prohibition on Members of Congress. – It shall be unlawful hereafter for any Member of the Congress during the term for which he has been elected, to acquire or to receive any personal or pecuniary interest in any specific business enterprise which will be directly and particularly favoured or benefited by any law or resolution authored by him previously approved or adopted by the Congress during the same term.
The provision of this section shall apply to any other public officer who recommended that initiation in Congress of the enactment or adoption of any law or resolution, and acquires any such interest during his incumbency.”
In other words, even if he was not the principal author, if he did ask or initiated the enactment of such a law, he is covered by the prohibition.
Simply put, during our term of office, each one of us, it shall be unlawful for us to author any law or resolution that would benefit or favor us. The above prohibition shall apply even to that representative who just recommended, not even authored, the enactment of such law that benefited him.
Charge V. Representative Villar, in his bid for the speakership, prepared a propaganda kit that he distributed to Congressmen and media. I think you were given copies of the one. It is entitled “Manny B. Villar, Jr., Achiever and Visionary Leader,” and [in] the “Legislative Performance of Congressman Manny B. Villar, Jr.” Representative Villar unequivocally said that he “incorporated in the landmark Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act, Republic
Act No. 7835, the recapitalization of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation and the amendment to the Agri-Aqua Law to include housing investment.”
Speaker Villar’s companies are engaged in housing. He thereby violated the Anti-Graft Law.
The aforementioned Act, which incorporates H.B. No. 6145, co-authored by then Representative Villar mandates “banks to extend to housing loans not utilized for agriculture and agrarian reform credit.” In other words, loanable funds for agriculture and agrarian credit are to be re-channeled to housing, Speaker Villar’s business.
Representative Villar co-authored H.B. No. 11005 which “increased the capital of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation” and is the main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies. President Estrada admitted that the National Home Mortgage and Finance Coporation is presently bankrupt. He said that to the following: LAMP President Edgardo Angara, Congressman Agapito Aquino, Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Jimmy Policarpio, former Congresman Miguel Romero and myself. The President no less said that it is bankrupt. Increasing the capitalization of a bankrupt GFI benefited Representative Villar’s housing companies.
In the same propaganda kit of Speaker Villar, it states that “also passed by the House were Villar’s measures to make Pag-ibig Find contributions compulsory and to increase housing investments with the SSS.” Pag-ibig is a main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies.
In a word, Representative Villar’s legilslation from 1992 to 1998 were designed to benefit his business, a violation of the Anti-Graft Law.
Now, the same provision of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in the third paragraph of Section 6 thereof, as follows:
It shall likewise be unlawful for such member of Congress or other public officer, who, having such interest prior to the approval of such law or resolution authored or recommended by him, continues for thirty days after such approval to retain such interest.
Charge VI. When those bills that Representative Villar introduced or co-authored were enacted into law, he did not divest himself of his interest in his companies that benefited therefrom.
Now, Republic Act 6713, known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials provides in Section 3 (j):
Section 3 (j) “Divestment” is the transfer of title or disposal of interest in property by voluntarily, completely and actually depriving or dispossessing oneself of his right or title to it in favour of a person or persons other than his spouse and relatives as defined in this Act.
Charge VII. Manuela Corporation applied for and was granted a loan of P1 billion by the SSS, a government financial institution. Another P2 billion loan would be syndicated with another government financial institution, the GSIS. Total syndicated loan from the two GFIs: P3 billion.
Manuela Corporation, a housing and realty corporation, is owned by the family of the wife of Speaker Villar. An indirect financial accommodation. Again, the same Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials states in Section 3 (k) thereof:
Section 3 (k) “Relatives” refers to any and all persons related to a public official or employee within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, including bilas, inso, or balae.
SSS, historically and as a matter of public policy does not extend direct loans to any company. It extends loans to banks or to public or private financial institutions but not directly to business enterprises. The direct loan to Manuela Corporation is a first in SSS history.
Charge VIII. Manuela Corporation owes the Capitol Bank, which also owned by Speaker Villar, P150 million. There may be nothing wrong with that because both are private entities. However, out of the P3 billion earmarked to liquidate the P150 million Capitol Bank loan to the failing Manuela Corporation. In other words, it is a financial accommodation extended by GFIs to relieve Capitol Bank, owned by Speaker Villar, of the P150 million loan. Another indirect financial accommodation.
Charge IX. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is being undertaken in obedience to a constitutional mandate. All lands covered by CARP cannot be used for residential, agricultural, industrial or other uses unless a clearance, conversion, or exemption for a particular property is first issued by DAR.
Speaker Villar’s companies are developing or have developed 5,950 hectares or almost 60,000,000 square meters of CARP lands into residential subdivision without the appropriate DAR issuances that would authorize such lands to be used for residential purposes. A traducement of the constitutionally directed CARP law.
Article XIII of the Constitution, in Sections 4,5,6,7 and 8 states with clarity what the agrarian reform program is all about.
Just to give you an idea about how big 60,000,000 square meters is – my constituency of Makati is only one-third of that size. It is only roughly 21,000,000 square meters. If you add the entire area of Las Piñas and Makati, that is the residential subdivisions covered by the companies of Speaker Villar.
The House cannot reform itself, much less even operate effectively if a cloud of doubt hangs over the Speaker of the House. It is to the interest of the Speaker and the Members no less if these concerns are addressed frontally and resolved forthwith to clear the path for meaningful reforms.
Public office is a public trust. We, the representatives of the people pay a price for getting elected to public office. The Constitution imposes on us certain constraints which we must follow to the letter.
Let me allude to the Members of Congress who are barristers – the Constitution forbids us, lawyers, from appearing in court. In my case, for instance, I was a practitioner up to 1992. I got elected to the House so I stopped practicing, or in other words, I no longer appear in court. That is the price I have to pay. I think I was earning adequately in the practice of law, but I have to make a choice. Do I want to be a lawyer or I want to be a Congressman? If I want to continue being a lawyer, then I must not be a Congressman. If I have to be a Congressman then I must stop lawyering. That is what the Constitution says.
So in the case of Speaker Villar, it is simple. If he wants to go/continue in business and deal with government financial institutions, he can do so but he cannot also be a Congressman. If he wants to be a Congressman, then he must not be in business which deals with the government. We have to pay a price.
So, this case is a learning experience for us all. Whatever the outcome, it will show the things we can do, the things we cannot do, and the things we must do.
I would propose that the House of Representatives constitute itself into a Committee of the Whole to hear the charges and the Speaker’s defense.
He will have a trial that is more than fair to him for he will be judged by the very peers who elevated him to be the first among equals, only this time they will judge him according to the law.
I will never seek the speakership again nor in any manner challenge the leadership of Speaker Villar except on this specific issue of constitutional breach that calls into question the rule of law.
This is how important it is. So I rest my cause.